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The Week In Cannabis: The Vape Craze, Raises Hit $10B, Aurora Cashes In On TGOD, Seth Rogen's Charity Goes Green

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The vape craze took over the news this week, as the U.S. debated the perils of vaporized marijuana, following an outbreak of vaping-associated lung illnesses. On Thursday, the New York State Department of Health came out with a theory around vitamin E acetate being the culprit. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. enacted a law that provides protections to government employees who consume medical marijuana.

On the markets front, we learned cannabis-related capital raises, deals and M&A transactions had almost hit $10 billion this year through the end of August. This number compares to roughly $5.5 billion raised over the same period of time last year. Cultivation and retail subsegments of the industry continued to attract the majority of investments, same as in previous years.

While many were investing in the cannabis space, Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) has started cashing out on some of its investments. On Wednesday, the company said it had sold all of its remaining shares of The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC: TGODF) (TSE: TGOD). The stake, comprised of 28.83 million TGOD shares, accounted for 10.5% of the total number of outstanding shares. Sold at a price of $3.00 per share, Aurora received gross proceeds of $86.5 million. Even though Aurora doesn’t own any TGOD shares any longer, it still owns warrants to purchase 16.67 million shares in the future.

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Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, highlighted Aurora’s 50% return on its TGOD investment.

“Why sit on this money if you can use it, right?” she asks. “However, I worry that Aurora is going to need even more money as it waits for its numerous acquisitions to pay off.”

Click here for more information about the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference Oct. 22-23 in Chicago.

Cannabis ETFs delivered strong gains. Over the last five trading days:

• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) rose 8.77%

• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) gained 7.1%

• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) was up 7.23%

• The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) spiked 8%

• The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) escalated 7.64%

• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period up 1.9%

Gains were especially stronger during the four days of this week, as the ETFs recuperated from a slow Friday last week.

More News From The Week

We learned the next Hilarity for Charity event, hosted by actor Seth Rogen, will feature comedians all in the benefit of an Alzheimer’s charity.

Adam Devine, Ben Feldman, Andrew Rannells, Ilana Glazer, Casey Wilson, Kate Micucci, Nick Kroll, Regina Hall, Ike Barinholtz, Jeff Ross, Riki Lindhome, Tony Hawk and Anderson .Paak have reportedly signed on for the event already.

SOL Global Investments Corp (OTC: SOLCF) announced Andrew DeFrancesco will step down as the company's chairman. He will helm a new investment company, SOL Investment Group, which will acquire SOL Global's assets as the company transitions to Bluma Wellness and HeavenlyRx. SOL Global's CEO Brady Cobb will oversee Bluma Wellness, while former Kellogg's President Paul Norman will lead HeavenlyRx. Further details of the shift will be provided over the next month,

“I fortunately surrounded myself with an amazing team led by Brady Cobb with Peter Liabotis and Brad Morris, who are constantly pushing seven days a week to exceed our goals,” DeFrancesco told Benzinga.

Medicine Man Technologies, Inc. (OTC: MDCL) signed a binding term sheet to purchase five Starbuds dispensaries in Colorado. The company also announced it has signed a binding term sheet to purchase four additional Colorado dispensaries, owned by Colorado Harvest Company.

Market research and data analytics firm Prohibition Partners has released its first North American Cannabis Report. In the 134-page paper, the firm analyzes the current state of the cannabis industry in Canada and the United States to draw key insights into the industry’s future in the region.

The firm is estimating that by 2024, the continent's cannabis market will be worth $47.3 billion.

We learned Nevada cannabis dispensaries, cultivators, laboratories and producers have paid more than $109 million in excise taxes and fees over the course of fiscal year 2019, breaking the $100 million mark for the first time. Taxes alone amounted to $99.18 million, up from $74.7 million last year.

While the state has not yet disclosed how much of that went to education this year, changes to the law under the leadership of Gov. Steve Sisolak mandate that 100% of taxes go to education in future years.

For the next two years, the state is projecting more than $100 million per year in tax collections.

One of the biggest banks in Canada, Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO) has reportedly blocked the option of shorting cannabis stocks through its InvevstorLine brokerage to at least four retail investors. The investors were unable to examine another option to short those stocks with the Bank of Montreal.

Global cannabis products and accessories seller Greenlane Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: GNLN) announced an exclusive distribution partnership with Omura, a technology and design brand focused on the cannabis and wellness space.

LB Equity announced that it has made an investment in Herb Essentials, a holistic, cannabis-centric beauty and lifestyle brand. This is the second investment LB Equity has made via its Emerging Growth Fund, a $50 million fund focused on emerging cannabis-based products and companies across the beauty, health and wellness, and personal care sectors.

“Consumer demand for natural beauty and wellness products made with the best-quality ingredients keeps growing,” said Jay Lucas, Managing Partner of LB Equity. “Herb Essentials offers a range of organic products that are infused with the highest-quality cannabis derivatives, and we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with the brand as it continues to execute its successful growth strategy.”

CannaOne Technologies Inc. (CSE: CNNA) (OTC: CNONF) signed a letter of intent to acquire 100% interest in Real Life Sciences Inc.

Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (TSX: FAF) (OTC: FFLWF) signed a purchase agreement via its subsidiary Fire & Flower Inc. with subsidiaries of Cannabis Cowboy Inc. to acquire eight retail stores in Alberta.

Several cannabis industry companies, such as Cannabis Doing Good, Mason Jar Event Group and Irie Weddings & Events, are coming together on Oct. 17 to honor the organizations that give back to their communities and do good for the earth.

The event, the first annual Gala to benefit Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM), "A Night at the Cabaret," will be held in metro Denver. Nominations are open through Sept. 20.

Johns Hopkins Medicine launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. It's thought to be the first such research center in the U.S. and the biggest of its type in the world.

“Psychedelics are a class of drugs that produce unique and profound changes of consciousness over the course of several hours. The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research will focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, brain function, learning and memory, the brain's biologyand mood,” Johns Hopkins announced.

OTC Markets Group Inc. (OTC: OTCM), operator of financial markets for 10,000 U.S. and global securities, announced Ignite International Brands Ltd. (OTC: BILZF) has qualified to trade on the OTCQX Best Market, being upgraded from the OTC Pink market.

CannaTrac announced an agreement with Pacific Banking Corp that will provide state-licensed cannabis dispensaries and other retailers with the ability to apply for both the CannaCard mobile payments platform and banking services with PBC simultaneously.

“We are excited to announce our agreement with Pacific Banking Corp and to offer a streamlined process that provides the safety and convenience of CannaCard and security of a bank solution with one simple application,” said Thomas Gavin IV, Vice Chairman and CEO of CannaTrac. “This universal application will allow us to sign up state-licensed dispensaries and retailer merchants, including CBD distributors, for the CannaCard mobile payment platform and banking services with PBC at the same time.”

Mile High Labs, one of the world’s largest processors of hemp-derived CBD, announced the successful completion of audits for ISO 9001:2015, 21 CFR part 111 and 21 CFR part 117 certifications. These audits further demonstrate the company’s dedication to the highest quality standards for manufacturing. The company encouraged other CBD companies to follow its lead and help create an industry that has good manufacturing practices at its foundation.

Arcadia Specialty Genomics, a hemp-focused operating unit of crop innovation company Arcadia Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ: RKDA), announced this week plans for a new sun-grown hemp cultivation and agronomic research facility in Imperial County, California.

The company has received a license to produce hemp seeds and cultivate hemp. Management plans to generate its proprietary seed lines and flower for cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction.

Cannabis infused edibles, topicals and concentrates brand Coda Signature, is now available in California, the world’s largest legal cannabis market. After launching in Colorado in 2015, the brand has grown immensely and earned accolades for its flavor combinations and rejuvenating formulas made from only natural ingredients.

“California is an essential part of our brand’s growth and we look forward to bringing our products to the West Coast,” said Mark Grindeland, Coda Signature Co-Founder and CEO.

“We look forward to rolling out our full line of products in the coming months,” added Elizabeth Cooke, Co-Founder, President and Chief Compliance Officer.

Planet 13 Holdings Inc (OTC: PLNHF) announced that Cannabition, Las Vegas’s immersive Cannabis Museum has entered into a lease with Planet 13 to be part of the Vegas Cannabis Entertainment Complex. The interactive cannabis museum is scheduled to open in Q2, 2020 and will be 7,000 Sq-Ft.

“This is the perfect addition to our Planet 13 entertainment facility because we are a destination for tourists and cannabis enthusiasts,” said Larry Scheffler Co-CEO of Planet 13. “Our SuperStore averages over 2,000 daily visitors and now they can enjoy the Cannabition Cannabis Museum along with our existing entertainment features. We are adding a Café, Pizzeria, event center and customer facing production facility as part of our Phase II expansion in Q3 this year. We are creating an experience that no dispensary in the world can replicate and the museum adds another great attraction for our guests."

Top Stories Of The Week

Check out the top stories on Benzinga Cannabis this week:

• Here's How To Tell If Your Vape Cartridge Is Safe And Not Counterfeit

• Tucker Carlson Tries To Blame Marijuana For Mass Shootings

• The 5 Biggest Cannabis Business Scandals: From CannTrust To PotNetworks

• Weed And Rest: How Consuming Marijuana Can Affect Your Sleep Patterns

• Fall Allergies And Weed: 3 Things To Know About The Effects Of Marijuana

• 9 Companies Medicine Man Technologies Has Acquired In 2019

• Exclusive: Dope Magazine Founders Launch Cannabis Events, Marketing Business

• This New Entertainment Product Combines Cannabis, Hip Hop Stars, TV, Sci-Fi And Books

• 7 Reasons Why Drinkers Could Be Swapping Booze For Bud At The Bar

• Altria-Philip Morris International Merger Confirms Longtime Predictions And Begins To Mark Both Industries' Progression

• How This Family-Owned Cannabis Business Stays Profitable, Self-Funded Despite Tough Regulatory Environment

• An Extraordinary International Misunderstanding: The UN's International Narcotics Control Board's Cannabis Quotas Are Not What The Media Portrays

• PureRatios CEO Mixes Herbal Holistic Medicine With CBD

• Sex, Music And Weed: Vape Maker PAX Labs Launches Insights And Tends Program

• 'Weediatrics': The New Film That Looks Into Medical Cannabis For Children Suffering From Debilitating Conditions

Check out these and many other cannabis stories on Benzinga.com/cannabis

Click here for more information about the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference Oct. 22-23 in Chicago.

Events Calendar

September 12: iCAN Connect, an Israeli Cannabis Investor Symposium, will take place at the Green Fig Restaurant, in New York City, providing investors the opportunity to learn about the highly innovative Israeli cannabis industry, meet executives and researchers and evaluate investment opportunities. Organized by the group behind the CannaTech series of global cannabis conferences, iCAN Connect is designed for qualified individual and institutional investors or their representatives looking for international medical or recreational cannabis investment opportunities.

September 26-29: Canex Jamaica returns with an impressive roster including yours truly and many other high level speakers including Bruce Linton, Steve DeAngelo, Vicente Fox, Cam Battley, Michael Miller, Tahira Rehmatullah, Emily Paxhia, Adam Levin, Douglas K. Gordon, Dr. Sandra Carillo, Jessica Steinberg, John Kagia, John Salley and Robert Hoban, among others.

October 4-6: Argentina will hold its first big cannabis conference, Expo Cannabis at the La Rural event hall in Buenos Aires. The event arrives at a key moment in the country’s regulatory history and the development of a nascent legal industry.

October 10-October 11: This year, New West Summit 5.0, in San Fransico, CA, welcomes keynote speakers Alicia Silverstone, Killer Mike, George Zimmer and many more! NWS curates over 50 exhibitors, two days of talks, engaging conversation, top-level investors, innovative brand developers and the best and the brightest in the industry.

October 11-12: CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will bring the largest CBD event platform to Denver, CO to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will focus on compliance & regulation and investments & business.

October 11-12: the first ever Budtender Awards are coming to Las Vegas, sponsored by cannabis financial technology Canna Paid and cannabis educational program Clover Leaf University. The awards aim to pay homage to the nation’s top Budtenders and the many facets of cannabis culture. The two-day event offers panel discussions, a product and service expo, a closing night performance, awards show, and after party culminating in a performance by legendary hip hop artist Cypress Hill.

October 22-23: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Chicago, Illinois! You know you can’t miss it. Go to https://www.benzingacannabisconference.com/ for more information.

October 23-24: Marijuana Venture Magazine’s Retail and Dispensary (RAD) Expo, a national trade show focused on the retail cannabis industry, will return to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. The RAD Expo will feature presentations from industry veterans to speak about successful entrepreneurship and topics including merchandising, partnership management, interior store design and retail operations. The 2019 show will focus heavily on CBD products and CBD brands with a presence in health grocery stores, luxury retailers, pet stores and other retail categories that carry hemp-derived products.

Photo by Javier Hasse.

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